Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Outgoing Peruvian president to say goodbye with giant Christ statue for Lima

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Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue
For those of us engaged in the noble pursuit of writing backhanded blogposts about the religious idiosyncrasies of world leaders, it's hard to overestimate the value of a figure like the Peruvian president Alan García, who first crossed my path in May this year, when he suggested that the execution of Osama bin Laden by elite US special forces could have been brought about through the miraculous intervention of the late Pope John Paul II, who was beatified on the same weekend.

Clearly García's a character, so it's a shame that the Peruvian constitution requires him to step down as president when his term ends this year. But before he goes, García, who was described as having a "colossal ego" in the US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks, is planning something spectacular for Peruvians to remember him by – the erection of a 120-foot statue of Jesus Christ in the capital city Lima.

If you think that sounds familiar, you're not alone – architecture students from Lima are planning a protest, furious that their city is about to engage in such blatant plagiarism of Rio de Janeiro's skyline, where the Christ the Redeemer statue stands at a Messiah-worthy 130 feet. One architect has described García's scheme as an "excessive and authoritarian gesture", devoid of "aesthetic, historic or symbolic" value, which Lima's mayor, Susana Villarán, has expressed concern about "the integrity of the landscape of Lima's bay".

García, however, is unrepentant, saying the monument will "bless Peru and protect Lima" once it is unveiled on 29 June.
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